February 6, 2015

Showdown on the Mountain

Facing a battle? Feeling outnumbered by the enemy? Check out this fascinating example of God's power on full display.

What in the Word: 1 Kings 18:16-39

Hang-Onto-It Verse: 1 Kings 18:39 ~ " '…The LORD—He is God! The LORD—He is God!' "

The Back Story
Look up Exodus 20:3. What is commandment #1? There’s a reason the first thing God said when He dictated His “Top 10 Rules for Living” was “don’t have gods other than Me.” He knows that if we don’t make Him our first and only, the other rules won’t matter much. If God is not #1 in our lives, why should we care about how we use His name or whether we set aside a day to worship Him? And if we divide our affection for God, who is perfect, are we really going to care about how we treat other people (the focus of commandments #5-#10), who are, well, not? So God lays the groundwork for our relationship with Him and with others by telling us not to have other gods or idols. WHICH is exactly what God’s people were doing at the time Elijah was on the scene. (The Bible calls the people who were supposed to be following God Israelites or the nation of Israel or Jews or the “chosen people.”) This was not, by the way, front-page news, because since Creation, God’s special people had been breaking commandment #1. It always made a mess of things, but they kept doing it anyway. At this point in history, God’s people were worshiping a false god called Baal, who was sort of the "head god" in a whole collection of invented gods. Baal was not a real person. He was not a thing. He was just a made-up idea the people called their god. This had gone on for a while before The Great I AM, in His perfect timing, decided to settle the issue—God or Baal?—once and for all.

The Main Event
Read 1 King 18:16-26. (Yes, it’s a chunk, but you’ll like it…this isn't geometry, after all). The main participants in this battle were God, Baal, the prophets of Baal, the prophets of Asherah, and Elijah. How many prophets of Baal were ready to duel? How many Elijahs were there? Take a minute to think about if you've ever experienced a time when you felt like it was hundreds of the enemy against one of you.

Read 1 Kings 18:27-29.* What was Elijah basically doing at this point in the duel?
(*For fun, check out this link to some amusing alternatives to the word translated as "busy" by the NIV. I know this is a Bible study for girls, but if you've got a brother or dad around, they’ll probably think this little tidbit is hilarious.)

Read 1 Kings 18:30-35. Why do you think Elijah wanted the offering and the wood for the sacrifice drenched with water before the fire was lit?

Read 1 Kings 18:36-39. What request did Elijah make of God? How did God answer him? What was the people’s reaction to God’s answer?

The Takeaway 
Here’s the best news: the exact same power—not some watered-down version, but the same full-on power—that God showed in a BIG way that day on the mountain is available to you right now for whatever showdown you are facing. Whether your fight is against school or bullies or depression or a messed-up family or sin or unbelief or lies or uncertainty about what to do with your life or mistakes you've made or physical challenges or poverty or being left out or feeling unloved, the power God used to put the prophets of Baal in their place can put your foes in their place.  

But how does this power work in real life? You have to ask for it! You have to dig into your mind and heart and find a seed of faith at least as big as a mustard seed and believe that God is Who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do. Then ask for His power to give you victory on your mountain! Say, “God, I am choosing to believe in You. Help me to believe more tomorrow than I do today. Help me to believe that You’re real and loving and powerful and caring even when I can’t see what You’re doing. Please give me Your power to take on _______. Please help me to win this fight through Your strength.” Then keep on asking every day, all day long. And when you see God say “yes” in whatever ways He does (according to what He knows is best for you), you’ll be like the people on the mountain that day: on your face in awe, yelling, “The LORD—He is God! The LORD—He is God!.”

The Truth in Action (or: “Great. What do I do now?)
Think of a specific showdown you’re facing in your life right now. Give some thought to what it would look like if God gave you victory in that battle. How would you feel differently? Act differently? What would be different about your daily life? Finish this sentence: “If God helped me win this showdown, I would ____________________."

Now, what do you need to do to cooperate with God in this thing?  Maybe you need to end a relationship. Maybe you need to forgive someone. Maybe you need to ask someone to forgive you. Maybe you need to BE QUIET around a certain someone. Maybe you need to ask for help to deal with something that’s bigger than you are. Start talking to God about it. Ask Him to show you what’s true.  Ask Him over and over—not because He’s stingy but because He likes to hear from you—to show Who He is in this battle. Ask Him to lay your enemies low—whether your enemy is someone else, something else, or your own self. Keep saying the hang-onto-it -verse in your mind, speaking it out loud, or writing it in a journal or on a white board in your room or on the back of your hand or in a notebook during a boring movie in English until God does something you can see or feel. And when He does, say it again: “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”

"How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth."
(Psalm 119:103, NAS)

1 comment:

  1. Comment from my dad: "Idol worship becomes idle worship."


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